What We Know So Far
- BuzzFeed News and the BBC exposed secret files containing evidence of widespread match-fixing by players at the upper level of world tennis.
- A core group of 16 players — all of whom have ranked in the top 50 — have been repeatedly flagged to the world tennis authorities over suspicions that they have thrown matches at tournaments including Wimbledon, allowing corrupt gamblers to cash in by betting against them.
- None of those players have ever faced sanctions.
- More than half of them are playing at the Australian Open, which started on Monday.
- Separately, a data analysis by BuzzFeed News identified 15 players who regularly lost matches in which heavily lopsided betting appeared to substantially shift the odds — a red flag for possible match-fixing. Four players showed particularly unusual patterns.
- And tennis authorities ignored "extremely damaging evidence" over fixing, a former senior British police officer who investigated match-fixing said.
Reaction From the Tennis World
- Members of the U.K. Parliament are planning to open a hearing into how tennis officials responded to suspected of match-fixing, The Telegraph reported.
- Andy Murray, the world No. 2, called for greater transparency in sport, and said that more should be done to educate young players about the dangers of corruption in tennis.
- World No. 1 Novak Djokovic said he had been indirectly offered $200,000 to throw a match in 2007.
- World No. 3 Roger Federer said he would "like to hear names" linked to the allegations, but that "you have to take it super serious."
- The governing bodies for world tennis released a joint statement and held a press conference in Melbourne to deny that evidence of match-fixing had been suppressed.
- Chris Kermode, chair of the Association of Tennis Professionals Executive, insisted that gambling "is not a widespread issue in the sport" and that there is a "zero tolerance" policy for match-fixing.
John Whittingdale, U.K. secretary of state for culture, media, and sport, said he is talking to tennis officials, stressing that they need to make sure the "game is absolutely clean."
"I have spoken this week with the Lawn Tennis Association, the All England tennis club and the Association of Tennis Professionals," he said in response to a parliamentary question on Thursday. "We are determined to do all we can to support them in ensuring that the game is absolutely clean, and I know they are committed to that as well. We will be holding a summit later in the year, looking at the challenge of tackling corruption across all sectors, including sport."
Aussie Grand Slam winner Pat Cash expressed disappointment Thursday in how tennis' image has been negatively affected by claims of match fixing, telling reporters the issue had been blown "way out of proportion."
The 1987 Wimbledon champion said that while there was always going to be a temptation to fix matches for lower ranked players struggling to make ends meet, authorities were well on top of the issue at the higher level.
"There's some stuff at lower levels, but that's human nature," Cash said. "These players are struggling to make a living and that's the bottom line. They're really struggling and some people are going to be tempted to do the wrong thing."
Cash added that it was unfortunate that world tennis had been unfairly lumped into a category with other sports that had experienced major corruption scandals.
"It's tarnished tennis the same way as the [Pakistani] cricket things, boxing and wrestling. Tennis is absolutely not like that, I'm convinced of that," he said. "It's a bit of a 'storm in a teacup,' but officials do need to keep on top of this [at lower levels]."
If anything, the 50-year-old added, tennis will benefit from the "unfounded" claims, as authorities will step up the fight against corruption in order to save the sport's image.
"The units in place by the governing bodies are on top of this, but if they need to put more money into it to make sure, then absolutely," he told reporters.
Cash also refuted claims that allowing betting companies to sponsor tournaments was fueling a culture of corruption among players.
"Tennis players want prize money, and [tournament organizers] have to sign sponsors," Cash said. "It's part of sport. It's big sponsorship money. The players are very aware they are not to be involved in gambling."
Australian tennis legend John Newcombe on Thursday called for any player found guilty of fixing matches to be banned for life, as the fallout from tennis' match-fixing scandal continues to spread.
Newcombe, a seven-time Grand Slam winner in the 1960s and 70s, has said corruption has no place in tennis, and match fixers cannot be allowed to tarnish the reputation of such a respected sport.
"Don't do it, it's not worth it," Newcombe said. "Anyone who does it, there's no second chances. You're kicked out for life as far as I'm concerned."
Newcombe, 71, added that young players don't necessarily understand the long-term effects that taking part in corruption can have on their careers and lives.
"If you get involved with these people you're in a steel trap — they won't let you out," Newcombe said. "Once you make a mistake of agreeing to do something, they'll hold it over you for the rest of your life."
However, Newcombe — a host broadcaster on Seven Network — refused to speculate on the potential image issues of having betting company William Hill as a major sponsor of the Australian Open.
"Gambling's a fact of life," he said. "You can't fight it, you just have to control it as well as you can."
William Hill's debut as the Open's first ever "wagering partner" was criticized by No. 2-ranked Andy Murray, who called earlier this week called it "a little bit hypocritical."
Andy Murray on Wednesday penned an editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald, saying he "would really like to know" if he was ever unwittingly part of a fixed match.
Citing a joint BuzzFeed News and BBC investigation that uncovered evidence of widespread match fixing, Murray, the world No. 2 in men's tennis, said the story is not good for the image of the sport and it was important to get to the bottom of it.
I haven't personally played a match where I've thought something was up. And I haven't really watched a live match and thought 'this is being fixed'. I would actually like to know if there was any match that I was involved in that had had irregular betting patterns around it or anything like that.
Murray also called for the prosecution of anyone involved match fixing.
I'm more pro 'let's get all of the information out there, get all of the evidence out there' and as a player I want to know. I don't want anything to be withheld. I just want to know everything that's going on and I think a lot of the players do. If you're innocent then you want to find out about the players who have been doing stuff, if there are any, and we want them to be prosecuted.
Read the full editorial here.
Mercedes Benz on Wednesday said it was keeping a close eye on investigations into the tennis world, becoming the first major sponsor to respond to evidence of widespread match-fixing that was exposed by BuzzFeed News and the BBC.
The German automaker sponsors a number of tennis championships and counts Rodger Federer as a "brand ambassador."
"We are keeping a close eye on the investigations," Claudia Merzbach, a spokeswoman for Mercedes Benz said in an emailed statement to BuzzFeed News, "but kindly ask for your understanding that we will not comment further on the ongoing proceedings."
BuzzFeed News contacted a number of tennis sponsors in the wake of the explosive allegations. So far, a Time Warner Cable spokesperson said the company had no comment on the matter and an ESPN spokesperson said that "no one pertinent is available" to comment.
Members of the U.K. Parliament are planning to open a hearing into claims that world tennis officials failed to adequately respond to suspected of match-fixing, The Telegraph reported.
The plans by the parliament's culture, media, and sport select committee come in the wake of a joint #TennisRacket investigation by BuzzFeed News and the BBC into evidence of match-fixing that was published this weekend.
Tennis officials have said evidence uncovered by a landmark match-fixing probe in 2008 was not strong enough to warrant further investigation. However, a former senior British police officer told BuzzFeed News that the Association of Tennis Professionals was presented with "extremely damaging evidence."
Now tennis officials responsible for investigating corruption will be called before the select committee to explain their response.
Prime Minister David Cameron has also called for an independent investigation into the matter, with a spokesperson for his office calling the allegations "deeply concerning."
Tennis authorities ignored "extremely damaging evidence" over fixing, a former senior British police officer who investigated match-fixing told BuzzFeed News.
The officer has spoken out for the first time to condemn the sport's governing bodies for failing to pursue the "extremely damaging evidence" presented to them.
In the wake of the #TennisRacket investigation by BuzzFeed News and the BBC, the tennis authorities said evidence uncovered by a landmark match-fixing probe in 2008 was not strong enough to warrant any further investigation.
But now Albert Kirby, a retired detective superintendent who was on the team that conducted that investigation, has rejected the governing bodies' claims and revealed that he told the authorities at the time that the evidence demanded a "vigorous inquiry".
Read the full story here.
Robin Haase, world No. 65, told CNN that he "maybe" played against someone who was throwing a match. He did not provide details.
Haase, who lost in the first round of the Australian Open, said he received more than 40 messages from "haters" following the allegations of match-fixing.
Haase told CNN the allegations were "damning the sport for no reason."
"I think it's a very bad thing to put this out without coming out with evidence," he said. "If you do this, come with facts. Then my answer would be different to the situation because right now I think it's damning the sport for no reason."
Haase said the Tennis Integrity Unit was the "place to go to" if "something is going on."
He added, "If the players [were involved in match-fixing], they should be punished really hard. And I hope they don't play at all."
Former No. 1 ranked player Andy Roddick discussed the evidence of match-fixing on this Twitter feed Sunday evening, saying he was never approached about a bribe and that he thinks people who possibly took them will come to light.
Here's Roddick's initial tweet on the matter:
Here's his answer when asked if he thinks the names of players who possibly were involved will be revealed:
And here was Roddick's response when asked "couldn't some of these bribes players are being offered also include threats if they don't do it? I mean these are criminals".
And he even had time for some self-deprecating humor:
For the full exchanges check out his Twitter feed.
A representative for Roddick declined a request for comment to BuzzFeed News.
U.K. lawyers call for overhaul of world tennis' anti-corruption policies
A prominent sport law QC has told The Brief international professional tennis authorities urgently need to review eight-year-old anti-corruption polices in light of the match-fixing allegations.
Kuldip Singh, QC, of Serle Court Chambers in Lincoln's Inn, said world tennis needed to address issues with the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU).
Singh said the sport's governing body need to ask "is the present system for dealing with corruption in tennis fit for purpose? The conflict of interest at the heart of the sport and the lack of transparency can be seen from the fact that representatives of the four governing bodies decide whether, in any particular case, the evidence justifies disciplinary proceedings.
"If it is not fit, what reforms are required and how quickly can they be made to ensure that any current wrongdoing is appropriately addressed? And did the TIU deal appropriately with the historic cases of corruption?"
Another specialist lawyer, Mark Gay, from Hamlins, the London law firm, described the allegations as "deeply disturbing". He said: "Allegations of match fixing are totally toxic both to individual players and to the sport as a whole, as they can completely undermine public confidence in the sport. They have to be thoroughly investigated."
And Christian Leathley, a lawyer with Herbert Smith Freehills, said: "An offense of match fixing can be constituted by an agreement between two people, directly or indirectly. The evidence required to establish that offense is varied, and might boil down to merely one person's word against another. As a result, it becomes very challenging for the TIU to establish a basis for an investigation, let alone a prosecution of some kind."
Former British professional tennis player Arvind Parmar has revealed he was not surprised to read about the allegations of match-fixing.
"I've been offered tens of thousands of pounds to lose a match," Parmar told The Times of London. "Only once during a ten-year career, but the circumstances were pretty dramatic, as I was offered an envelope full of euros to lose in two sets, only an hour before I was due on court.
"I was playing at a Challenger tournament in the Dutch city of Groeningen in 2004 when I was approached by a random guy as I was coming off the practice courts. He showed me the money and said that I had to lose in two sets. It was a large envelope full of euros — so shocking and blatant.
"I remember that he didn't speak great English, but it was obvious what he was trying to do. He seemed anxious, nervous, and after a few quick words he began trying to press an envelope stuffed with euros into my hand.
"It was a substantial amount of money — tens of thousands — way more than I would have earned from winning the tournament and more than most players at that level would make in a year.
"But it wasn't tempting at all. It was a split-second decision for me to say, 'Absolutely not.' I didn't even consider it, and was in a state of complete shock afterwards."
Parmar said he had heard "whispers" of match-fixing during his career but was only directly approached that one time.
Three board members have reportedly resigned from Tennis Australia.
Former Australian players Kerryn Pratt and Janet Young and businessman Peter Armstrong submitted their resignations to the board on Tuesday evening.
According to the report, the trio resigned for "confidential reasons."
Andy Murray also called for greater transparency in sport following BuzzFeed News and the BBC's investigation uncovering evidence of match-fixing in tennis.
Speaking after his Australian Open first-round win against Alexander Zverev in Melbourne on Tuesday, Murray said:
If there is corruption in any sport, you know, you want to hear about it... As a player you just want to be made aware of everything that's going on. I think we deserve to know everything that's sort of out there. Some of it will be true; some of it might not be true. But I'm always very curious with that stuff across all sports as well. I think sports could in general be much, much more transparent.
In 2009, Murray said in an interview he knew of a number of players who were offered money to lose matches, but he also went on to say " I don't necessarily think that there has been a huge, huge problem in tennis. I don't think it ever will be."
World tennis No. 2 Andy Murray on Tuesday said more had to be done to educate younger players on the tour about the dangers of corruption.
The Scot, who was one of the first players to tweet the joint BuzzFeed News and BBC investigation on Monday, said it was almost understandable for younger, more inexperienced players to be tempted into corruption if racketeers offered substantial amounts of money to fix matches.
He said junior and lower-level players struggling to make ends meet were most at risk, and called on the Association of Tennis Professionals to do more.
"I've been aware of the issue since I was quite young," Murray told reporters. "I think when people come with those sums of money when you're that age, I think sometimes people can make mistakes. I do think it is important from a young age that players are better educated and made aware of what they should do in those situations and how a decision [to match-fix] can affect your career and the whole sport."
He noted that he was never warned or told about how to handle corruption as a young player.
"I don't think [education] is done very well. I think you should be learning of [corruption] when you're 15, 16, 17 years old. Because when you come on the tour, players need to have the right people to support them."
Murray also slammed the Australian Open for signing on a new sponsor in William Hill Betting for the 2016 tournament.
"Yeah, I'm not really pro that," Murray said, "I think it's a little bit hypocritical really."
Milos Raonic on Tuesday said the Tennis Integrity Unit seems to be doing all it can to stamp out corruption within tennis.
He also highlighted the process players are encouraged to follow if they are approached by someone to fix a match.
"We're told that if anything comes up, you bring it up to the right authorities. There's a hotline we have if this comes up," Raonic, who is seeded 13th, said post-match. "I think there is enough, from my personal experience, being done regarding [match fixing]."
Until the players referred to in the BuzzFeed News story were named and proper investigations carried out, it's just rumor and hearsay, he added.
"If the story has any validity to it, I hope the players — that were not named — are maybe weeded out," Raonic said. "Tennis is a beautiful sport and [the situation] is a little bit shitty."
The Canadian added that he had never been approached to take part in match fixing, instead joking that people who have lost money due to his poor form was the only reason people have approached him about betting.
"The closest I've ever come to is people cussing off at me for losing matches and they lose money," he laughed. "[There has been] no kind of upbringing of anything like that before a match."
Rising tennis star Thanasi Kokkinakis revealed he has been offered money to throw matches.
Speaking to radio station 3AW, the No. 71-world ranked player said he has been approached by "randoms" on social media offering him money to throw matches.
"I have [been offered money]. Not face-to-tace, but on social media. You have these randoms from nowhere saying, 'I'll pay you this much money to tank a game,'" the 19-year-old said.
Kokkinakis is not playing in this year's Australian Open due to a shoulder injury.
He told reporters at Melbourne Park on Tuesday that any instance of him being approached to fix a match was promptly reported to the Tennis Integrity Unit.
"It hasn't really affected me to be honest, you get [the request], then report it and they take care of it," Kokkinakis said. "You know it happens in every sport, I'm ready for that sort of stuff. People do it, but you leave it to the professionals to deal with it. It's all sorted."
When asked if he knew of other players who had been similarly approached, Kokkinakis said it wasn't typical locker room conversation.
"I have no idea, we don't really talk about it," he said.
A spokesperson for Rafael Nadal told BuzzFeed News the Spanish tennis star "will be talking to media [at] his post-match press conference."
Nadal will play his fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in the second day of the Australian Open.
French Davis Cup captain Clément: I was offered "significant sum" of money to lose a game.
Former tennis pro and 2001 Australian Open finalist Arnaud Clément has said that he turned down the offer of a "significant sum of money" to lose a game during his career.
The French Davis Cup captain told France Info on Monday: "A few years ago, in Russia, I was playing a match that evening and a stranger offered me an significant sum of money to lose the game. He left without success."
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron for investigation into match-fixing
"It's deeply concerning that another sport is facing such serious allegations," a spokesperson for Cameron said. "The most important thing is that action is taken now in response and that the independent authorities get on with that. They've got to build their credibility and confidence of those who want to know the real truth behind such allegations."
Roger Federer comments on match-fixing allegations: "I would like to hear names"
The world No. 3 was asked about the story in Melbourne Monday night.
"I would like to hear names ... it's such nonsense to answer something that is pure speculation," he said.
"You have to take it super serious. This is more a question for guys in suits, not one in a tracksuit."
Djokovic reveals he was once offered $200,000 to fix a match
Despite saying he did not believe match-fixing was a widespread problem in world tennis, Djokovic did speak about an incident in 2007 when it was alleged he had been offered $200,000 to throw a first-round match at the St Petersburg Open, a tournament he did not eventually attend.
"I was not approached directly," he said. "Well ... I was approached through people that were working with me at that time, that were with my team. Of course, we threw it away right away. It didn't even get to me, the guy that was trying to talk to me, he didn't even get to me directly. There was nothing out of it.
"Unfortunately there were some, in those times, those days, rumours, some talks, some people were going around. They were dealt with. In the last six, seven years, I haven't heard anything similar. I personally was never approached directly, so I have nothing more to say about that.
"It made me feel terrible because I don't want to be anyhow linked to this. Somebody may call it an opportunity. For me, that's an act of unsportsmanship, a crime in sport, honestly. I don't support it. I think there is no room for it in any sport, especially in tennis."
World No. 15 Gilles Simon slams the report
"It's useless ... just dropping a bomb to [get people to] talk about it, waiting for the first day of a slam," said Simon, who is also the ATP Player Council's vice president.
"If anyone has any evidence, say it, and we'll be happy to know and take action.
"There is not much to say because there was not much inside."
Novak Djokovic says there is no place for match-fixing in world tennis
The defending men's champion, world number one Novak Djokovic, said match-fixers are not welcome in tennis.
"I don't think the shadow is cast over our sport," he said.
"There's no real proof or evidence yet of any active players ... as long as it's like that, it's just speculation. We have to keep it that way."
U.K. sport secretary says allegations are "deeply concerning"
"It is deeply concerning that yet another sport is facing serious allegations of match fixing," U.K. Secretary of State for Culture, Media, and Sport John Whittingdale told BuzzFeed News Monday morning.
"Once again it has been British investigative journalism that has brought this to light, and has raised serious questions about how this was allowed to go on — and it would seem, deliberately covered up for so long," he said in a statement.
"This reinforces the need for a global anti-corruption initiative and demonstrates why the PM is absolutely right to put this at the top of his agenda. He will be hosting a major anti-corruption summit later this year and tackling corruption in sport will play a big part in that.
"I hope that the ITF will launch an urgent and fully transparent investigation immediately."
Former U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic says he has never had any involvement in match-fixing
"No, I never have had a situation like that. Even if I did, I would come forward to the ATP, the Tennis Integrity Unit as well," he told a press conference on Monday evening (AEDT).
"I'm very far away from betting even though it is popular in Croatia. I don't do betting, it's very far away from me.
"We have this Tennis Integrity Unit for many years and players are well aware of that. Player are advised week after week to be aware of [match-fixing].
"If you're looking at doing it, there are huge sanctions, so I don't think anyone who loves the sport would risk that."
Women's world No. 1 Serena Williams says she has never seen any indications of match-fixing in games she's been involved in
"When I'm playing, I can only answer for me. I play very hard, and every player I play seems to play hard," Williams told reporters following her opening-round victory.
"As an athlete, I do everything I can to be not only great, but historic. If that [match-fixing] is going on, I don't know about it. I'm kind of sometimes in a little bit of a bubble."
Men's seventh seed Kei Nishikori has expressed shock at suggestions of corruption in world tennis
"Yeah, it's [surprising]. I didn't know anything. I'm a little bit surprised, but, I mean, obviously I've never been involved with this. Actually I have no idea what's going on," the Japanese star told reporters after defeating Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber 6–4 6–3 6–3 to advance to the second round.
Australian senator and prominent anti-gambling campaigner Nick Xenophon has lashed out at tennis authorities and called for a total ban of in-game betting that allows wagers to be placed on points, games, and sets.
"We need to know that the game in Australia is absolutely clean and if anyone has been involved — if there is evidence anyone has been involved in match-fixing, in corrupt practices related to sports betting, to gambling and corrupt gambling syndicates — Tennis Australia ought to disclose that as a matter of priority," Senator Xenophon said in a Monday press conference.
As the Australian Open starts in Melbourne, tennis officials denied that they had sat on evidence of match-fixing
Association of Tennis Professionals Executive Chairman Chris Kermode said at a press conference held on Monday:
"The Tennis Integrity Unit and the tennis authorities absolutely reject any suggestion that evidence of match-fixing has been suppressed for any reason or hasn't been properly investigated."
Association of Tennis Professionals Executive Chair Chris Kermode goes on ESPN:
Department of Ill-Timed Announcements
Tennis governing bodies issue statement
In response to the BuzzFeed News/BBC investigation into match-fixing the four tennis governing bodies have issued a joint statement.
"The Tennis Integrity Unit and the tennis authorities absolutely reject any suggestion that evidence of match-fixing has been suppressed for any reason," the organizations say.
Read the full statement here.
Nigel Willerton, the director of integrity for the Tennis Integrity Unit, speaking at the Association of Tennis Professionals press conference at the Australian Open
"Under the tennis anti-corruption program, we can demand their phones and laptops. Obviously they have to consent to give them, and if they don't then consent, that's called 'non-cooperation' and they can be reported and then sanctioned."
"There was a case recently where a player was sanctioned and given a two-year suspension."
"I am confident that everything that comes into TIU is actioned and assessed. But corruption is very difficult to detect and then obtain the evidence to prosecute those that go down that path."
"It would be unprofessional for me to make comment as to whether any players are under investigation at present."
Martina Navratilova weighs in on #TennisRacket
More reaction from Chris Kermode, chair of the Association of Tennis Professionals
"There is a zero tolerance policy on this [match fixing]. We are not complacent, we are very vigilant on this, and whilst we are aware that all sport, not just tennis, is at potential risk of corruption. That is why in 2008 the Tennis Integrity Unit was set up to actually tackle this head-on and we are constantly vigilant and not come play sent."
On a shadow being cast over the Aus Open: "We are confident that the Tennis Integrity Unit is doing what it can, and tackles this issue very, very seriously. So I think it will be seen that tennis is in a very, very good place and we are acting accordingly."
The Association of Tennis Professionals responds to "The Tennis Racket"
"(We) absolutely committed to stamp out any form of corrupt conduct in our sport," said Chris Kermode, the chair of the Association of Tennis Professionals.
"In its investigations, the Tennis Integrity Unit has to find evidence as opposed to information, suspicion or hearsay, and this is the key here, that it requires evidence. A yearlong investigation into the Sopot match in 2011 found insufficient evidence and the BuzzFeed investigation reported itself it hit a brick wall and wasn't able to determine who the guilty party was in relation to this match."
The Association of Tennis Professionals is holding a press conference right now about match-fixing, from the Australian Open. Watch here for updates
Congressman Joaquin Castro, who represents the 20th district of Texas, once played tennis for eight straight hours in 100-degree heat against his twin brother. Castro called The Tennis Racket “great.”
He followed up on a more personal note:
In Australia, where the Open is just now beginning, an independent senator and anti-gambling campaigner gets set to weigh in on #TennisRacket
Australian politician Jim Chalmers, the Labor Party’s shadow minister for Sport, said the BuzzFeed News/BBC investigation has “put the issue back on the agenda and it should be examined or re-examined by the relevant authorities around the world.”
He added that "if people do the wrong thing it cheats the bookies but far more importantly it cheats the fans as well."